An athlete’s guide to nutrition


While parents, teachers and coaches tell children to eat their fruits and veggies, drink water and stay away from junk food, there is much more that goes into nutritional choices for athletes. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

Eat your fruits and veggies, drink lots of water and don’t eat too much junk food. These are the food tips parents, teachers and coaches tell children.

While it’s good advice, there is much more that goes into nutritional choices for athletes. When it comes to the world of competition, everybody wants an edge.

Gillian Salmon is a registered dietician and contract academic instructor at the University of New Brunswick. She also works with the UNB Reds, giving presentations to athletes on sport nutrition.

“Three to five meals before your game, have a pretty carb-rich meal, so something like a bowl of oatmeal with some skim milk and a glass of orange juice,” she said. “A couple of slices of toast with some jam, or something like rice with veggies, a little bit of meat. Nothing too high in fibre.”

The body breaks down the carbohydrates into fuel and stores some of it away as a sugar called glycogen in the liver. When muscles need more fuel, the glycogen is transported to them.

A few hours before exercise, it’s important to begin hydrating and preparing the body for exertion. One additional tip Salmon recommended was to have something salty as well to keep water in the body.

Salmon said sport nutrition is important for athletes and can make a big difference.

“You want to make sure you’re starting your game or your big event optimally fueled, so you can put forth your best foot.”

Carbohydrates and glycogen keep the brain sharp and make a difference especially in agility-based activities.

As start time nears, Salmon recommended another carb-filled snack or a glass of juice. She said carbs and liquid are key right before an event.

Gillian Salmon is a registered dietician and contract academic instructor at the University of New Brunswick. (Submitted: Horizon Health Network)

If there’s a certain snack one may like to eat before or after the event, like Women’s National Basketball Association star Brittney Griner or sprinter Usain Bolt, Salmon said to stick with it — within reason.

“With a lot of high-level athletes, there’s a lot of ritual and superstition … whatever makes you feel more comfortable before you play, go for it, as long as it’s not chugging a bunch of beer,” Salmon said. “You want to make sure you’re not doing anything new … you don’t know how your body is going to react to it.”

If the competition has a break in the middle, refuel by trying a mouth rinse with an electrolyte-filled drink. While it may not seem effective, Salmon said carbohydrate absorption begins in the mouth. If one feels like they can’t swallow or eat anything, this may help. Grabbing a…



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